Corruption, And Best/Worst Value?

Look forward with this view, below, across Skelmersdale and West Lancashire towards the allegedly corrupt City of Liverpool, from Beacon Park (Image by James Maloney).

Now look behind it and see the views of the landfill-corrupted Beacon Park Golf Course, courtesy of WLBC, Serco Leisure Operating Ltd, Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd. Eight years and counting, from this

to this now “Worst Value” golf leisure function below

.

 As is well known, Part 1 of the Local Government Act 1999 (“LGA 1999”) relates to “Best Value”.  Section 3 imposes the general duty.  Section 3(1) provides that a “best value authority” must make arrangements to secure continuous improvement in the way in which its functions are exercised, having regard to a combination of economy, efficiency and effectiveness.  As Underhill LJ observed in R (Nash) v Barnet LBC  [2013] EWHC 1067 (Admin), [2013] LGR 515, at paragraph 69(1), the core subject matter of the substantive best value duty is “the way in which” the authority’s functions are exercised; and that is “very general language” which connotes high-level choices about how, as a matter of principle and approach, the authority goes about performing its functions.

Sections 10-15 inclusive of LGA 1999 relate to best value inspections.  Section 10(1) authorises the Secretary of State (“the SoS”) to appoint a person to carry out an inspection of a specified best value authority’s “compliance” with the requirements of Part 1 of LGA 1999 in relation to specified functions.  Section 11 sets out the Inspector’s powers and duties.  Section 13 relates to Reports.  Section 15 gives the SoS further powers.

What “Best Value” is seen on the Beacon Park Golf Course? Was the “Best Value” the amount of royalties realised and distributed to those who were involved in it? Who among them can demonstrate “substantive best value duty” and “high level performance of leisure functions”?

We should be told. A public inquiry would tell us?

To quote the West Lancashire Borough Council 2015 “West Lancashire Community Leisure has recently closed its driving range at Beacon Park due to a lack of demand/income but has plans to develop the leisure offer at the site and these include a new 9 hole par 3 course and junior facilities. The golf course at Beacon Park is available for members and non members offering pay and play rates, together with competitions and club tournament events. The Course is to a Donald Steel layout and provides good competition play with enough character and features for a variety of playing ability. The inclusion of a new 9 hole par 3 course will provide additional facilities for both senior and junior development of the game”.    

“Lack of demand/income”? Sorted out by 2 years of landfill royalties, destination unknown apart from a “pittance” admitted to by Serco, although huge cash movements are recorded via Oakland Golf & Leisure Ltd associated companies.

And not forgetting WLBC planning permissions approved the whole rotten edifice!

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